December 07, 2012
Psychotropic Medications Are Prescribed Appropriately Among U.S. Teens, National Study Finds
Professional Counselor Continuing Education Results of the Study Among those youth who met criteria for any mental disorder, 14.2 percent reported that they had been treated with a psychotropic medication. Teens with ADHD had the highest rates of prescribed medication use at 31 percent, while 19.7 percent of those with a mood disorder like depression or bipolar disorder were taking psychotropic medication. Among those with eating disorders, about 19 percent were taking a psychotropic medication, and 11.6 percent of those with anxiety disorders reported taking medication. Very few youth reported use of antipsychotic medications. They were most frequently used by youth with severe bipolar disorder (1.7 percent) or a neurodevelopmental disorder such as autism (2.0 percent). Approximately 2.5 percent of teens without a diagnosed mental disorder were prescribed a psychotropic medication. Among these youth, 78 percent reported having a previous mental or neurodevelopmental disorder and associated psychological distress or impairment. Significance The data suggest that most adolescent youth who are taking psychotropic medications have serious behavioral, cognitive or emotional disturbances. The findings also showed that youth being treated by a mental health professional were more likely to be receiving appropriate medication as opposed to those being treated within general medicine or other settings. However, more research is needed on medication use among children younger than age 13. Reference Merikangas K, He J, Rapoport J, Vitiello B, Olfson M. Medication use in US Youth with Mental Disorders. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. Online ahead of print Dec 3, 2012.